Independent Broadcasting Authority Director General Josephine Mapoma says beginning April, the Authority will collect the K5 TV levy via SMS and pay ZNBC when it performs in a satisfactory manner.
And Mapoma says in future, some community radio and TV stations which carter for areas which are un-serviced by ZNBC will benefit from TV levy.
Speaking when she featured on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview, Mapoma said it was better for IBA to collect the TV levy on behalf of the national broadcaster in order to enhance accountability.
“There will be a performance charter between ZNBC and the minister. I think the policy of government now, they want to see on behalf of the Republic of Zambia, whether this levy is being utilized well by ZNBC. You are aware that the Minister of Information will be going to Parliament to tell Parliament how the TV levy is being utilized. So, I see the scenario of government coming out with a different model in order to safe guard the interest of the public, not that they don’t believe in ZNBC. There is nothing wrong with ZNBC receiving the money via IBA on the basis of your performance. Because you can’t be given money when you are not performing, perform your mandate and be given the money and whoever is giving you the money will be very happy,” Mapoma said.
Asked if that meant ZNBC would be at the mercy of government in its judgement of what kind of performance was pleasing, Mapoma said it was important for ZNBC to be accountable for the money it was getting.
“ZNBC has a national mandate and therefore, we don’t see how government can allow ZNBC to beg. We believe in ZNBC, that they are hardworking and professional people and they are aware of the labour laws in this country and they will make sure that at no time will there be a situation where there isn’t money for ZNBC to operate, including the levy itself. So it will come and it will never be at the IBA’s mercy. I want to make it very clear that when you are receiving money, surely, you should be accountable to the people that are paying this levy and therefore, over the past 17 years, the accountability, maybe it was there, maybe it was not there,” she said.
“What we are saying is that there will be accountability of the levy in many ways. First of all, the SMS, under our Act, we are allowed to audit their books and therefore they cannot cheat us on what they are making, it cannot give us false information about the number of subscribers. I also earlier said that we will be audited to make sure that the money meant for ZNBC goes to ZNBC. I don’t know whether the money in the past, which ZNBC got directly for themselves and from Zesco was being audited.”
She said the IBA already had one million subscribers on its SMS system.
“We are ready to start collecting this April, they will start collecting on 1st of April and the publicity in terms of collecting will still continue, the remittance of that money will not be in April, it will come on the 10th of May and on the 14th of May, IBA will remit to the corporation the money we would have received from the SMS. I have already put it on record that subscription is per individual, the individual family will decide to subscribe to the SMS. I have also made it very clear that for now, we have one million subscribers and if you start multiplying that by K5, surely the money will even be more than what you are collecting. In the past, the collection was by TV set, the scenario has now changed,” Mapoma said.
Asked what role IBA would play to ensure citizens were satisfied with ZNBC, Mapoma said the authority would ensure that the national broadcaster adhered to a performance charter to be signed with the Minister of Information.
“First of all, I don’t know what details will be in the performance charter between ZNBC and the minister. When we get it, we will, on behalf of the minister implement what is in that charter. We believe that in that charter, there will be performance indicators by the national broadcaster and we believe that those performance indicators will be met by the national broadcaster. We believe one of the things which will be in there will be ethical standards and those will be that there will be fair publicity to all citizens of the republic regardless of their religious concerns, because you are a national broadcaster and by your mandate, you have got an obligation to cover every citizen of this country so we believe some of those things will be included and we shall use that charter on behalf of the minister to tell the minister, minister, your charter is being adhered to and the performance of ZNBC is in accordance with the charter. And we believe ZNBC will do every well because they will know someone is watching and secondly, they will have a performance charter therefore they need to perform according to the performance plan,” she said.
And when reminded that some private TV stations felt they needed to benefit from the levy, Mapoma said some community radio and TV stations servicing areas unreachable by ZNBC would soon start benefiting from TV levy.
“There are some community radio stations that are making sure that the communities there are receiving enough information which is vital to that community and in these communities, ZNBC is not there so they are more or less playing the role of ZNBC so if these community radio stations or TV stations came in the near future and there is a broadcasting levy, it could be appropriate that they be given some funding in order for them to survive because the IBA is there to promote a prolific and diverse media or broadcasting industry in Zambia and in order to do that, we need to help everybody but as the law stands right now, the TV levy will be going to ZNBC,” said Mapoma.